Courtesy Bongo Vongo

Courtesy Bongo Vongo

I know.  I know. The joke of the holidays is always fruitcake. While living in Mexico a few years ago and finding beautiful candied fruits easily, I decided to pull out an old family recipe and give it a try. Once all the ingredients were assembled on my countertop, I mused over how over seven and a half pounds of fruit would fit into one cake. I made an emergency phone call to Granny who just laughed and assured me that it really would work out.

And boy-hidee, did it! We proudly displayed it on an antique pedestaled glass cake plate on the bartop at our reservation-only bar, Casa Coctel. It was a major hit with our customers who came back time and time again for it.

Whatever you do, do not use the fake-colored candied crap you typically see in grocery stores this time of year. Seek out crystallized fruit at your local Hispanic grocer or look for French style dried fruit such as at Histoire Sucrée. The good stuff ain’t cheap so be prepared.

Wrap in cheesecloth and pour some Bourbon or Brandy on it every day (for a period of a few days as long as the cake lasts) and cover with foil or on a covered cake plate. I make one big cake in an angel food cake pan and 9 mini loaves for gifts from this recipe. The recipe’s original ingredients are listed, but you can sub them out for appropriate alternatives.

  • 1 pound Candied Citron (alternate: I used candied viznaga, a Mexican cactus)
  • 1 pound Candied Pineapple
  • 1 pound Candied Cherries (alternate: I used a mix of Mexican candied sweet potato, fig, and chilacayote which is a type of squash)
  • 3 pounds Raisins
  • 1 ½ pounds Dates
  • 4 cups All Purpose Flour (alternate: I used whole wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon Cloves
  • 1 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon Allspice
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • ½ pound Butter
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 6 Eggs, separated
  • ½ cup Orange Juice (I prefer fresh squeezed Mandarin)
  • ½ pound Almonds
  • 1 pound Pecans or Black Walnuts (I used half of each)
  • Bourbon or Brandy for soaking (make sure you have at least 300 ml or so of liquid available)

 

Cut candied fruit in ½ inch cubes.  Leave raisins, dates, and nuts whole.

Sift flour, spices, and salt.

Cream butter and sugar in another bowl.

Add beaten egg yolks to creamed mixture.

Mix a small amount of the flour mixture with raisins and dates to keep them from sticking.

Add flour mixture alternately with fruit juice to creamed mixture.

Add fruits and nuts. Mix thoroughly.

Add beaten egg whites.

Grease pans.

Line with brown paper (torn from grocery bags like in the old days) and grease paper.

Pack batter firmly into pans.

Cover up with waxed paper and place pan of hot water in oven under cakes.

Bake at 250ºF.

A 1 lb cake will take 2 to 2 ½ hours; 2 lb cake will take 3 ½ hours; 3 lb cake four hours.

Remove waxed paper from top of cakes during last 15 minutes of baking.